Efforts to renovate and reopen the Big Four Depot received a powerful shot in the arm from the State of Ohio in the form of an $800,000 grant from Jobs Ohio announced on Tuesday. 

Owned by the City of Galion, the building is set to undergo and extensive renovation to ultimately become a hub of innovation and growth for the community. This is envisioned, in turn, to drive both economic expansion and development.

The Big Four Depot project is a $2.2 million renovation of the first and second floors of the 10,455 square-foot building. According to Galion officials, the Big Four Depot, strategically positioned in the central business district, anchors the eastern side of Uptowne Galion.

Galion Mayor Tom O’Leary celebrated the announcement, saying “We are very thankful for the support from JobsOhio, Galion City Council, Ohio Sen. Bill Reineke and Rep. Riordan McClain, North Central Area Transit, and the Crawford Partnership on this project. This renovation is a key step toward economic growth and enhancing our Uptowne, promising to be a catalyst for small business development in Galion and beyond. It’s a significant move towards a brighter future for our community.”

Plans for the first floor include new offices for Seneca-Crawford Area Transportation featuring a dispatch area, conference room, offices, breakroom and lobby. It will also contain rentable event space. The second floor will host the anchor tenant, Galion Small Business Loft, consisting of 10 offices for lease by small businesses and startups, coworking space, a resource office for entrepreneurial counseling, and a conference room.

Among other items, renovations will include earthwork, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, construction, utilities, masonry and exterior improvements.

“Thanks to the City of Galion’s leadership, JobsOhio, and the project’s many partners, a pivotal entrepreneurship effort is being launched in Crawford County with the Galion Small Business Loft. This marks a new chapter for local business innovation and support. We’re eager to see the entrepreneurial spirit thrive in our newly established incubator and coworking space.”

– David Zak, President & CEO of the Crawford Partnership

The Depot initially served as the division headquarters for the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad until 1969. Peak passenger traffic occurred around World War 1 with as many as 32 trains stopping per day. It also served as a frequent “Whistle Stop” for presidential candidates. The city of Galion purchased the building in 2000 and has since undertaken several repair projects on the property.

“The Big Four Depot in Galion speaks to the rich role Ohio has played in American history. Refurbishing this space listed on the National Register of Historic Places will attract new businesses to Crawford County and ensure this extraordinary structure can be celebrated for generations.”

– Mike DeWine, Ohio Governor

The $2.2 million project has received commitments exceeding $1.4 million from local and state sources. In addition, JobsOhio has committed $800,000 toward the project through one of its unique incentive programs.

JobsOhio’s Vibrant Communities Program assists distressed, small and mid-size cities with projects that fulfill a market need and represent a reinvestment in eligible cities.

“The historic Big Four Depot that once served as the division headquarters for the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railway will soon serve as an economic hub to spur growth both in Uptown and in the growing Depot District. When complete, this revitalized historic gem in Galion will include a new anchor tenant and additional office space to attract new jobs and create a more vibrant downtown.”

– J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio President and CEO

Supporting downtown revitalization has been a key pillar of the Community Development Strategy for Crawford County. A goal to focus on quality of life including beautification of public spaces aligns with the transformational power of the Galion Big Four Depot project, according to Galion officials. The city estimates additional downtown investment approaching $4 million over the next three years as well as approximately $1 million in new payroll through anchor tenant activity.

The project coincides with the arrival of a comprehensive downtown revitalization initiative, Galion Main Street, patterned on the national Main Street model. The organization sent a letter of strong support for the grant application.

The City of Galion hopes to complete the project and open it to the public this year.

Source: Regional Growth Partnership/Northwest Ohio Press Release